Where Does the Water in the Devil’s Kettle Go?

In Judge C. R. Magney State Park in Minnesota, there exists a natural phenomenon along the Brule River known as the Devil’s Kettle- a waterfall that splits in two, with one half falling about 50 feet into the river below and continuing on its merry way towards Lake

Superior and the other half falling into a large hole in the ground that seems to go nowhere. In fact, local legend posits that anything thrown into the Devil’s Kettle will never be seen again. People trying to disprove this have thrown everything from

Boxes of ping pong balls to giant logs into the hole to see where they end up, with nothing ever seeming to emerge anywhere nearbye. So where is the stuff thrown in going? For many years, the most popular hypotheses put forward were that the water falling into

The hole either flowed into a hidden underground limestone cave carved into the rock by eons of flowing water or it flowed into a lava tube. If you’re unfamiliar, a lava tube is pretty much what it sounds like- a large tube formed

By flowing lava as it cools. In a nutshell, as the top layer cools and hardens, lava underneath potentially continues to flow for some time until the source of the lava stops. This can lead to that inner layer of lava draining and leaving behind a large empty tube in a

Lava rock shell. Thus, the hypothesis is that the falling water cut through the surface rock at some point and fell into an ancient lava tube formed at the same time as the rest of the volcanic rocks in the area.

This sounds perfectly plausible, but the issue is that while rhyolite, which forms the bedrock on top of which the river system is located, is a volcanic rock, it doesn’t form lava tubes. And as for the basalt layer underneath, while this can form lava tubes, this particular

Type is flood basalt, which comes up from fissures, rather than flowing down from a volcano. Thus, flood basalt is incredibly unlikely to create lava tubes (more typically just creating large seepage sheets of rock) and no such lava tubes have ever been discovered in the area, despite many known lava beds in the region.

As for the other popular hypothesis, this is that there perhaps is a large underground limestone cave or river system the water drains into. However, the nearest limestone deposits to the park are hundreds of miles away and rhyolite is much too hard of a rock for such

A cave system to likely have formed in it. Despite these two hypothesis thought to be unlikely by most, they were long the best guesses simply because nothing anyone ever threw into the hole ever came back out. So it must be going underground somewhere…

And as the saying goes, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” On that note, over the years scientists and common-folk alike have conducted dozens of experiments to determine where the water was

Going. These experiments have ranged in sophistication and scope, but mostly boil down to the age old “hucking an object into the hole and trying to find it later”. One of the more famous such experiments involved pouring hundreds of ping pong balls into the hole onto which

A phone number was etched with a message that anyone who found one and called in would be given a reward. Not a single ball was found by the experimenters and nobody ever called in to say they’d stumbled across one. Similar experiments that likewise ended in

Failure have involved throwing in everything from dye packs to GPS trackers. One person even dragged a bunch of large logs to the top of waterfall and threw them in; a few days later a couple were observed floating around inside the Devil’s Kettle and the

Rest had, seemingly, disappeared. This isn’t even mentioning the countless random objects thrown into the hole by tourists. (For the record, people are asked not to do this, but it doesn’t really stop them.) Along with the items you’d expect, like loose change and twigs, there are local legends suggesting that people have thrown televisions,

Refrigerators and even a car into the hole. However, given the general inaccessibility of the area, these more fantastical stories are mostly thought to be apocryphal. On that note, contrary to rumors floating around on the internet, we couldn’t find a

Single known example of someone either falling into the Devil’s Kettle or of somebody dumping a dead body into it. So what exactly is going on here? It turns out a whole lot of nothing. Early in 2017 the mystery of the Devil’s Kettle was finally

Solved when a hydrologist working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Jeff Green, and retired Minnesotan professor Calvin Alexander deciding to do something that had apparently never occurred to anyone prior despite it being a ridiculously obvious thing to do in investigating the phenomenon- they measured the volume of water flowing

In the river immediately above and below the waterfall. What was the result? They found that at the top of the waterfall the river flowed at a volume of 123 cubic feet per second, while at the bottom it flowed at 121 cubic feet

Per second…. While this isn’t technically the same, Mr. Green notes “In the world of stream gauging, those two numbers are essentially the same and are within the tolerances of the equipment.” And for those who would prefer the numbers line up perfectly, we can at least definitively say from Green and Alexander’s measurements

That nowhere close to half the water can possibly be disappearing into a big hole to nowhere. All evidence would seem to indicate it’s simply disappearing into a hole briefly before coming out the other side to rejoin the other water. This might all have you wondering then where

All the stuff thrown into the hole went. Well, Alexander’s hypothesis is that “The plunge pool below the Kettle is an unbelievably powerful system of recirculating currents, capable of disintegrating material and holding it under water until it resurfaces at some point downstream.” In other words, stuff thrown into the Devil’s

Kettle doesn’t get dragged to a mysterious underground cave or lava tube- it just gets obliterated by thousands of tons of falling water smashing it against rock, or otherwise doesn’t resurface until well down stream, effectively making it seem to disappear.

In order to silence the remaining doubters, when the flow decreased in the fall of 2017 coming, Green and Alexander had planned to dump a whole lot of dye into the hole. Unlike previous attempts at this, they planned to use a dye that is visible at 10 parts per

Billion. Combined with the decreased flow, this should have then been readily visible on the other side. However, when we here at TodayIFoundOut in the summer of 2017 contacted the parks department to inquire as to when this would happen so we could go film it,

They informed us the plan was called off, though did not explain why. Bonus Fact: Speaking of throwing things in other things, ever wonder how the practice of throwing coins into fountains got started? Well, wonder no more. People have been throwing coins into fountains seemingly as long as there have

Been coins and fountains. The tradition all started with water. (Shocker, I know.) Water, of course, is vital to sustain human life. While many people in the developed world today have clean, drinkable water readily available from their kitchen taps, this was

Not always the case. Potable drinking holes in many regions weren’t the easiest things to find. Thus, where clean water was available, many early European tribes believed that such areas were a gift from the gods. The idea that drinkable water was sent from

The heavens remained even as wells and fountains were built. Often, a small statue of a god could be found next to early wells and fountains, turning them into a type of shrine. Presenting gifts to gods is an ancient practice that was usually meant to appease angry gods,

Or to act as a payment for a request or prayer. In the case of fountains and wells, people would toss in a coin while sending up a prayer—an early version of making a wish. One rather prolific well can be found in Northumberland, England, and was used to pray to the Celtic

Goddess of wells and springs, Coventina. 16,000 coins from different eras of the Roman Empire were found there. Interestingly, most of the coins found in the Coventina Fountain were low denominations, much like today where people are usually more willing to part with a 5

Or 10 cent coin rather than a full dollar, euro, or pound. Of course, it wasn’t always coins. The Well of Pen Rhys in Oxford, England called for pieces of clothing to be tossed in. In this case, it was thought that the water had healing

Powers and that the clothing carried disease, so by tossing a button, pin, or piece of fabric into the well, you would be healed. The belief in the healing powers of the Well of Pen Rhys remained popular well into the 18th century. These days, believing in gods watching over

The wells or the thought that water has healing powers has largely lost favour, but people still practice this ancient tradition, in modern times usually making a wish. Probably one of the most famous examples of a wishing fountain is the Trevi Fountain in

Rome. The Trevi Fountain was built as the ending point of a 21 kilometre long aqueduct called Virgo, named for the goddess who would guide soldiers to water when they were thirsty and tired. Originally, tossing a coin in or taking a drink from the fountain was supposed

To ensure good health. Eventually, the tradition evolved to what we know today: if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, you will one day return to Rome. This idea was popularized in the 1954 film Three Coins in the Fountain, which also suggested

That if you throw two coins in, you’ll fall in love with a Roman, and if you throw three coins in, you’ll marry him or her. Since the movie, this practice has become so popular with tourists that it’s estimated that around €3,000 in coins are thrown in the fountain

Every day. Obviously, all of those coins can’t just sit in the fountain forever. The Trevi Fountain shuts down for one hour every day and the coins are swept out by the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, which pays for food for the

Poor as well as Aids shelters. The coins have to be cleaned, sorted into different denominations, and sent off to the bank. As for the more general case, some wishing wells will have a sign saying “proceeds go to…” which makes it pretty easy to

Figure out where your coins end up. Lacking a sign, however, it’s most likely that your coin will be collected and donated to a charity, or perhaps put toward the upkeep of a historic building or a zoo. Even the coins thrown in fountains owned by private businesses tend

To be donated rather than kept by the business itself.

#Water #Devils #Kettle